Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed an amendment to a bill changing Virginia’s texting while driving law this week by proposing lower fines for the new bill.
McDonnell promised to not change the aim of the legislation, which makes using any mobile phone a primary offense in Virginia. This means an officer can pull over and cite a driver who is breaking no other laws at the time, but who is texting, surfing, emailing or using other applications. Without the measure, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means a driver must first be pulled over for committing another offense and then can be cited for using a handheld mobile device.
The amendment would amend the texting while driving fines to be more in line with common fines for driving under the influence of alcohol as well as reckless driving. The bill that passed did require a minimum fine of $250 for a first offense and a $500 fine for a second or subsequent offense. McDonnell amended those fines by half. This year’s legislature reconvenes April 3 to consider McDonnell’s proposed amendments and vetoes.